East Midlands Green Party Blog


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I care for animals, one of the reasons why I am Green.

When I joined the Green Party, animal protection was one key element for me. Whilst other parties appear to shy away from this in order not to upset wealthy and powerful meat, diary, pharmaceutical and clothing industries, nor wishing to upset costumers with the realities of consumption, we the Green Party have been staying true to facts and our values. However, whilst I believe our policies strongly reflect that, I think we could and should prioritise animal issues more.

I have been campaigning on various aspects relating to animal protection which bring an extremely wide spectrum of issues from general animals protection, hunting, animal testing, factory and other farming, clothing, antibiotics and climate change, which is often forgotten.

I have grown up in a family who loves animals. We have been rescuing varies animals; and my mother taught us from young on to have empathy. I am against keeping generally animals in cages and in confinements unsuitable for their species. For example, I would introduce laws to seize keeping certain pets like birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish etc, animals that are being kept for entertainment in cages, often alone whilst being social creatures. Budgies in nature, fly in huge groups very long distances. Keeping them alone, or with one other bird in a small cage is simply cruel. I also do not think this is beneficial for children. It teaches them to ignore the animal’s needs; and furthermore children will consequently lose their ability to connect empathically. I, therefore, believe it to have a psychological negative impact on kids. Zoos are similar – I remember taking my little sister to the Munich zoo. I saw how a gorilla tried to break the lock in order to get out. He was alone and visibly depressed. His back was turned to us. He glanced occasionally over, then shuffling further to hide his face from the glaring visitors. I have found this very upsetting, and swore then with my 17 years that I would never visit a zoo again. I appreciate that some zoos are better than others; I also know that some species may not survive in the wild anymore, and that zoos have helped conservation. However, I do not think that is a sound argument. I have found Costa Rica’s attempt and plans to close down zoos very promising. Their plans included putting institutionalised animals into nature reserves. If animals are under threat of extinction, we should address this working closely with nature reserves and governments. Justifying keeping wild animals locked away in unsuitable confinements surely is not the answer.

Hunting, particularly for sport is completely unacceptable. The argument that hunting is necessary to keep certain groups of certain species in sustainable sizes is ludicrous. It has been argued very persuasively that animals adapt to a declining numbers by increasing breeding. Nature counter acts to any such changes. For example if deer are being shot, the herd is likely to increase breeding to correct the imbalance. Furthermore I find hunting, particularly for sport absolutely unacceptable. It’s cruel, unnecessary and furthermore as a psychotherapist I think unhealthy for the hunter. We know cruelty to animals is a sign and likely a contributing factor to psychopathic traits with a decreased ability to have empathy. On these grounds, I support a ban on hunting.

Animal testing must be completely reviewed. I thoroughly support our policies on this topic. Many tests are absolutely unnecessary as other companies have already completely the same tests. Results should be shared. Many animals like rodents differ from us significantly, hence results may not actually be reliably compatible.

Factory farming is completely unacceptable. First of all it is very cruel. We know that animals have feelings, mothers grief for their babies when they are taken away within a few hours or days after birth. Keeping animals inside and in small cages is highly inadequate. Factory farming is profitable because costumers buy cheap meat and have become used to eat meat often daily, which bring some health problems as this is simply not good for us. However, this is unhealthy, unsustainable and cruel. I oppose all factory farming for various reasons besides its cruelty. The land used to grow the animal feed should be used to grow food for human consumption. Producing meat means that these animals have to be fed. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive units means less land for human food. For example, the calorie needs of a growing pig is about double that of a human child under 10 and 50% higher than an active adult. So the food going to this pig unit could feed 50,000 children.

Another major concern is the use of antibiotics. In large factory farms animals are kept in unnatural and confined environments, the outbreak and spread of diseases is, therefore a serious risk. In order to prevent this, animals are usually kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics are used in pig farming here in the UK. Experts are increasingly warning that bacteria are getting resistant to these antibiotics, which are the same as the ones used in human medicine. We rely on antibiotics heavily; without effective antibiotics normal operations and common illness can become lethal. Risking losing the service of valuable antibiotics through overuse as in factory farms is irresponsible.

These factory farms use a lot of energy and have a high carbon footprint. Since we are facing a major environmental crisis, we need to reduce energy usage and carbon omission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and dairy industry produces 18% of greenhouse gases globally; however other studies imply an even higher contribution.

These factory units will further harm small and medium sized farmers. Farmers cannot compete with the low prices that these mega units can achieve at the present time. These units usually have fewer employees than if the animals were traditionally farmed, more farmers and workers would be earning a living from this. Do we really want our British farming to become an industrial production line? Do we really want our landscape to be filled with industrial units? Or do we want to see traditional farms with grazing animals in the fields?

Sadly we ab-use animals on many levels, another example is for clothing. When I grew up, many including myself strongly opposed using fur. However leather is not widely discussed. And in deed I used to think that using the skin of animals killed for meat makes sense. I continue to think that if these animals are already killed, making good use of the by-products seem sensible. However, this is often not the case. In China, for example, many animals including cats, rabbits and dogs are killed simply for their skins. Their capture and deaths are particularly cruel, and is cheaper than producing synthetic leather or fur. Consequently often even with cheap clothing, contain real fur and leather. We should address this with adequate labelling, so costumers are made aware of it. We also should ensure that products sold in the UK should adhere to UK animals protection standards.

These are just a few examples of my views on animals issues. Additionally, I have been campaigning or supporting campaigns against the badger cull, cruel sports like racing or fighting (for example bull fighting), marine life protection and so on.

Humans are the greatest predator to all species, and considering that we claim to have compassion and empathy, we have been failing to show basic respect and care for other creatures. It saddens me. When I post a video containing cruelty towards animals, I often get responses from others saying that I should not have put it up as it was too distressing. My answer then is, if reality is too distressing, we should change it, rather than to pretend it did not happen.

 

 


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Rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic

Thtitanice Tories are ‘ rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ . We need a lifeboat and a change in the direction of travel

 

Despite the media image of  Theresa May as a “safe pair of hands”,  all we have seen so far is a set of incoherent and disastrous policy moves:

 

  • Reintroduction of grammar schools
  • Stretching NHS resources with an unfunded 7-day NHS
  • Closure of the department of energy and climate change
  • Chaotic”Brexit” policy

Grammar schools

The idea that an increase in grammar schools will improve educational attainment and address inequality is a damaging distraction. Grammar schools were not responsible for the increased social mobility in the post war decades. The entry of  working class school leavers into universities and professional occupations was  far more to do with the changing nature of the labour market, with an increase in non manual jobs and a sharp decline in manufacturing. The expansion of public services and the welfare state was also an important factor, reflecting a demand  and an expectation that a better and more equal society was both desirable and achievable, and that there must never be a return to the depression of the 1930’s which had led to world war.

Grammar schools will do nothing to address inequality. On the contrary parents with money are likely to feel even more pressured than they already are to pay for private tuition in order to give their children an advantage. The government is claiming that it will take measures to ensure that ‘disadvantaged  children’ have access to these new schools. Quite how this is to be achieved is far from clear. The only definition of ‘disadvantaged children ‘ that the government uses at present is those in receipt of free school meals ( why ? ) Ironically this excludes children living in low income ‘ hard working families’ with a parent  receiving Working Tax Credits ( WTC) Families receiving WTC are not eligible for free school meals! Does the Prime Minister even know this ?

Overall figures for exam success in those parts of England, such as Kent, where grammar schools still exist are worse than elsewhere. So, the initiative is unlikely to be a success even when the only measure of quality is exam results – which the Green Party does not believe.

Theresa May: “I want every child to have the chance to go to a good school”. Can you imagine the Tories saying this, without the words “have the chance to”? This is exactly what they stand for, providing for the lucky few. A good school should not be a matter of “chance”. For the wealthy ones, the chance is already 100%.

The NHS and the junior doctors’ dispute

The NHS seems no more safe in May’s hands than it was in Cameron’s. To say her government is “fiddling while Rome burns” is an understatement. They are fanning the flames.  Its response to a chronically underfunded health service is to pretend that the problem can be solved by dumping on Junior Doctors, who perform an absolutely crucial role and who make the point that an underfunded five day service ( with proper care continuing at weekends) cannot be turned into a  seven day service without a massive injection of resources. Junior Doctors know that they can’t work any harder than they do already and the Green Party knows that it is them and not the government who are telling the truth about the NHS.

Climate change

Perhaps the government’s biggest dereliction of duty is its failure to adequately address the issue of climate change and its consequences. The climate change deniers are now totally discredited and, like all governments, ours has stated its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. But one of May’s first moves was to close the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  Programmes aimed at combatting climate change – promoting  a complete change to renewable energy generation and insulating homes and other buildings, which would dramatically reduce energy demand – have had their funding cut. Instead we are to have expensive and dangerous nuclear power stations. Unacceptably high prices are often used as an argument against promoting renewables, but apparently not against nuclear. The National Audit Office reckons that the implied “subsidy” – the difference between the guaranteed price to the generating company and wholesale rates that is ultimately borne by customers – will eventually amount to £30bn. And, while the cost of generating renewable energy is already falling, the subsidy will be locked in for decades.

 

Brexit chaos

Meanwhile having held a referendum on whether to remain in or leave the European Union the government doesn’t appear to have properly considered the consequences of a leave vote. Unable to agree a common position in advance of the vote those ministers in favour of leaving appear anxious to row back from promises made about more money being available for public services ( the NHS in particular) and better employment prospects for UK nationals whilst there is a general ‘ fingers crossed’ attitude, hoping that ‘ the markets’ don’t punish the UK for Brexit. There is a desperate need for a strategy, and for  a commitment to ensuring that the economy doesn’t crash and that the social and environmental protections that EU membership offers are maintained and  expanded rather than abandoned in a ‘ race to the bottom’ .

Progressive alliance

How can we get rid of a government which refuses to take the measures needed to address our triple crisis  (economic, social and ecological) and which appears to have no plan for Brexit ?  The Green Party  knows that a large part of the problem is our unrepresentative electoral system ( the government has the support of less than a quarter of the electorate) and division among the opponents to its left. We have suggested to other party leaders that we discuss a possible Progressive Alliance, embracing The Green Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, as well as Plaid Cymru in Wales. Such an alliance would aim to come to an agreement not to compete against each other for votes, at least in marginal seats, in the hope that it would win a majority in Parliament, perhaps with the support of the SNP in Scotland. Such  a government could take some immediate measures to address the triple crisis, would commit itself to negotiate Brexit on reasonable and achievable terms  and would legislate for a more representative electoral system based on proportional representation. We are hoping for a positive response, perhaps after Labour has completed its divisive leadership conflict at the end of the month.

A Progressive Alliance could offer a lifeboat for an electorate in distress and could begin a new direction of travel towards a more equal and more sustainable economy and society. Time is running out. It is a journey that we need to start now.

may

Posted on September 17, 2016